The Epic Games Store as described by Sergey Galyonkin (SteamSpy Creator, Currently At Epic) (Update: Sergey Clarifying Points on Twitter)

daxy

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,660
Update: see threadmarks for details on Galyonkin's response or jump to post #507.

I recently found out about a really interesting Russian-spoken podcast that Sergey Galyonkin co-hosts called "Как Делают Игры," or in English: "How Games Are Made." Galyonkin is currently the Director of Publishing Strategy at Epic Games and also the person behind "Steam Spy." On December 8th, an episode came out that was about the new Epic Games Store (EGS). In this episode, Galyonkin answers a bunch of questions about the EGS posed to him by his co-hosts as well as listeners. I originally posted excerpts of their conversations in the general Epic Games Store thread. Until I listened to the podcast, I didn't have a firm idea of what the vision for the EGS was really, but this podcast has helped clarify a lot of things -- though it certainly also raised many new questions. I've condensed the bits that I translated earlier into a more readable format, and I hope you'll find it as interesting as I did. It’s a hellishly long write-up but a compelling one I hope, so grab a cup of tea or coffee, and strap in.

> Alternatively, check the threadmarks for highlights (see the top right of this post, or go to post #290). Ran out of characters!
First things first, while I understand Russian quite well, I have never before listened to a gaming podcast in Russian, nor do I really read Russian games coverage, so a lot of terminology used in the podcast took some time for me to parse. Hence, the following disclaimer: I might have misunderstood certain parts of the podcast. I don’t believe the overall story differs significantly from what’s below, but there may have been a few nuances that slipped by. While I’ve voiced disagreements with some of the EGS's policies in the past, I did not purposefully misconstrue anything in this. If Russian-speaking readers find anything worth correcting, simply @me and I’ll look it over.

Context – Steam isn't as ubiquitous an institution in PC gaming as you might think

Now, according to Galyonkin, only half of Fortnite players have Steam installed, and of those that do have it installed, 60% don't actively use it. For reference, Fortnite’s player count across all platforms was said to have exceeded 200 million back in November. I thought it unimaginable that the majority of the PC share wouldn’t use Steam regularly, but evidently that’s the case. This really crystallized that we’re talking about a completely different userbase here than most of the PC players that I know and the people who frequent these forums.

Two of the podcast’s co-hosts are from tinyBuild, the publisher of the Hello Neighbor games. Also a UE4 game, Hello Neighbor: Hide and Seek was one of the EGS’s launch titles. For Tinybuild, Steam made up the smallest share of Hello Neighbor’s sales (speaking about the 2017 game). Most of their sales were in fact from direct sales through their website, and when they started giving out Steam keys, they apparently got bombarded with questions on what to do with them. Their audience skews younger, and for that reason they thought the EGS would make a good fit.

I believe these insights are essential in understanding why the EGS operates the way it does and what its strategy is. In addition, it might give us a glimpse into the types of games that will be able to maintain visibility, relevance, and popularity on this store. The EGS is markedly different from Steam in many ways, the most important of which is its in-built audience that plays Fortnite. It seems like Epic is very much aware of this and has tuned their store’s design to account for this.

Discovering games

Unlike Steam, Galyonkin says that discovery on the EGS will primarily take place outside of the store. He draws parallels to a book store or movie theater. You usually know what you're going to buy or attend before going there rather than look through what's available to make your decision. New and featured releases will be shown on the storefront. The EGS's front page will not focus on algorithm-based discovery like Valve. This point was made very plainly. Galyonkin says he's skeptical towards discovery algorithms, because to write a good one for (game) discovery you need a lot of information about players' tastes. The average player on Steam owns PUBG, Counter-Strike and Dota 2 -- what game should they buy next then, he wonders. As many people only buy a few games per year, there's not a lot to go on. At that point, Galyonkin says that you might as well recommend any game, because all you really know is that they like multiplayer games. Algorithms, he continues, work better on people with a large number of games but don't really work well for the majority, i.e. those who don't own a significant enough number of games. So instead, Epic will have a curated front page like the App Store, but Galyonkin states that this won’t be how most people find new games. The primary way of "discovering" games will be through influencers -- developers giving out copies of their game to influencers through the EGS and, in return, influencers giving visibility to these games in some capacity. This is basically their analog to Steam’s curators.

The developer-influencer dynamic on the Epic Games Store

The central idea of this is that developers provide influencers with referral links to their games, which gives content creators and the like the possibility to earn a share of a game’s sale if it is bought through them. Galyonkin explains that currently the default cut is set at 5%, and, as part of an ongoing promotion, Epic will cover this for developers. Right now, developers aren’t losing any extra share of a sale’s revenue above the 12% cut that the EGS takes for their services. Developers can change the cut that influencers get to whatever they want – from 0% all the way to 100%. In any case, Epic will cover the first 5% at the moment.

Here’s where an interesting question arises, and I’m a little surprised that this hasn’t been elaborated on yet or been questioned more broadly by the press, because it is such an incredibly important detail. On their blog, Epic has stated that “[to] jumpstart the creator economy, Epic will cover the first 5% of creator revenue-sharing for the first 24 months.” If this is taken as the first 24 months since the store’s launch rather than a game’s launch – which was my impression – then in 2021, if developers want their game to gain visibility, they will be losing a share of their cut for a subset of sales.

After a while, Galyonkin expects market standards to develop and the rate will settle for certain types of games. He gives the example of a 20% cut being used by indies, while larger publisher-backed games might go for something like 5%. While this will not likely account for the lion’s share of a game’s sales, I was nonetheless surprised that Galyonkin expected that comparatively smaller independent developers would allow a larger cut of their per-game revenue. If we’re to assume that by 2021 the rate for indies will indeed settle at around 20%, the percentage margin per unit that they get would be 68% -- lower than Steam, even. Again, this won’t be for most units sold, but still an interesting thought. More on this later.

Developers will be able to automatically give out copies of their game to groups of influencers, and there will be different filters for influencers and press. As you might expect, the press won't get a commercial referral link – apart from this, things work the same between those two groups. Apparently, influencers are filtered by whether they are "verified" or not. Unverified influencers are all those who applied to this program and went through a rudimentary check. This involves making sure that the applicant is indeed who they are presenting themselves as and whether they have a channel. Additionally, as NoTime pointed out in the other thread, the pre-requisites for this appear to follow Epic’s Support-A-Creator program, meaning that influencers/creators need fulfill the following three conditions: “[having] 1,000+ followers on at least one major social platform,” “[completing] the Affiliate Agreement and [abiding] by our Creator Code of Conduct,” and “[being] capable of receiving payment in a form that Epic supports.” After achieving a certain minimum amount of earnings through referrals, influencers are checked by Epic moderation (again) to ensure that everything is normal in terms of their content or any other relevant factors, and they become verified.

Together with the copy of the game that developers send to influencers, Galyonkin explains that they would also be able to include a brief description of the kind of game it is and provide links to guides or asset packs, for example. However, Epic doesn't want to give developers the ability to contact individual influencers directly (which I take is to mean the EGS interface), because, according to Galyonkin, influencers don't like it when they're constantly bombarded with personal emails -- all they want from developers is that they're given the game, and they’ll take a look and play it. If developers wish to contact them personally, they'll have to do that through other channels.

The news feed

The client’s news feed will be the place where you can get notifications on the games you follow, developers, influencers, and get updates on price drops. You already follow a game automatically once you buy it. The ability to do so for other games, developers, and so forth is something that will come later. You’ll also be able to follow unreleased games.

This sounds like it might be an ancillary second pillar for discovery. The core idea seems to be that it’ll become a catch-all aggregate for things going on in the Epic Games Store and whoever you follow. For example, Galyonkin said that you’ll get notifications about big updates and other developments on followed games – all things that may help get visibility for a certain game and convince someone to buy a game they follow, according to him. However, to me, this seems to presuppose that someone has heard of a certain game at all. Otherwise they wouldn't have followed it. So, in practice, I would expect the news feed to act more like a midpoint between discovery and purchase, rather than a channel for discovery in and of itself. In addition to this, he says that the news feed is planned to include your friends' activities, but Galyonkin was not yet sure what activities exactly would be shown there.

Epic also plans to implement something like subscriptions to influencers. The way this would be implemented seems to be up in the air as of yet. Some of the complications described include paid subscriptions and how that’d work. I would assume that this, too, would be integrated into the news feed, but who knows.

Customer reviews

This is a big one. We already know that customer reviews on the EGS will be opt-in. A big differentiator from Steam is that Epic seeks to incorporate mechanisms that prevent review bombing entirely. Galyonkin expects that without review bombing, all developers will want to put reviews on their page. I don't think that's entirely true, since many developers’ complaints about reviews that I've read are about customers not understanding games and venting in frustration, people using reviews as faster support tickets, that reviews sometimes contain wildly inappropriate content, and so forth. Review bombs are certainly an issue, but I don’t get the feeling that this is the case for the majority of games. These other issues seem more commonplace. You can see it on almost every game's Steam page.

In any case, Galyonkin talks about some of the solutions to review bombing that Epic has been looking into. One of these is a pop-up message asking a player to review a game after having closed it -- from what I understood, the idea is that only a certain subset of players will then get to review it, and it isn't something everyone can do at any time. Another option he mentioned was only allowing or displaying the reviews of people who have recently played the game. Or using a numerical system instead of the like/dislike approach (of Steam), an algorithm then monitors review scores, and extremes are removed to normalize the (final) score. They're still figuring out how to best approach it. Galyonkin states that he personally likes the aforementioned review pop-up idea. To be clear, Galyonkin was just airing some of the different approaches they've been considering. Developers will not be able to directly moderate reviews. Similar to Steam, if there’s some issue with a review, a developer can flag it for evaluation by Epic.

Exclusivity

There will be (PC) games that have timed exclusivity to the EGS. Galyonkin says that Epic pays for this. They mainly pay developers to finish financing ports or to assuage fears of the game not doing well on this new platform. The latter works like a minimum guarantee of sales. Currently (or at the time of the podcast's release anyway), Epic's focus is on getting games that have not yet been released. If a developer wants to put it exclusively on their store, Epic is currently also offering to do off-site marketing, including ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Google. They don't advertise the store but the games. Galyonkin explains that if a game is only available through the EGS, that is of course in Epic's own interests, and it's in a developer's interest to get marketing through them. I don't believe Galyonkin said anything about if or how that would change once the store goes open for self-publishing. One big question that’s been on my mind at least is how in the world Epic got Journey. The answer is apparently that Epic cut a deal with Sony, and, to me, it sounded like Epic paid to get it ported over.

This wasn't addressed in this episode of the podcast, but here is some additional insight regarding Journey:

The thing is that Annapurna guys are the people that were working at SSM external development before its closing/winding down. They are the guys who originally helped to create and publish Journey. So they have a very close relationship with Sony. I guess that was some kind of 3 way deal to make it happen because as far as I'm aware Epic is not publishing any exclusives on their store, so they needed some company to do publishing. According to their wording, they are already spread thin and don't really want to manage publishing side of things on top of what they are already doing. At least that's what their rhetoric makes me believe.

Upcoming consumer-facing features

Responding to complaints about the EGS being focused on developers to the detriment of consumers, Galyonkin says that their initial focus was indeed on developers and that consumer-focused features are being worked on. Evidently, even certain things on the backend for developers aren’t fully finalized yet. Epic will be giving out free games every two weeks for the entirety of 2019 -- 28 games in total, including those that was given out late 2018. New (client) features for consumers will be introduced gradually.

Cloud saves will be coming around February. Achievements will be there by the end of 2019. Reviews will also come eventually – I don’t recall a date being given at any point. As stated before, there will not be per-game forums, and Galyonkin also added that there wouldn’t be guides like on Steam. Developer pages on the store will also be implemented at a later date. Social features will be introduced, but it'll be somewhat different from Steam's, and he couldn't give details yet. Limiting download speeds will also be an option. User profiles are planned for the beginning of "next year,” but I'm unsure whether he meant early 2019 or 2020.

The equivalent of Steam cards isn’t planned. Galyonkin says that they have an undesirable effect on purchasing decisions in the sense that people buy games that they don't really want just for the cards. Unlocking (in-game) items like skins and things like that will be possible but not necessarily tradeable.

You’ll be able to launch non-Epic games through the launcher, like on Steam. You can already pull in friends lists from Steam, Galyonkin said. However, importing games directly from other platforms – like on GOG -- will not be done. He doesn't see the advantage of it.

As for mod support, Epic wants to apply their Support-A-Creator program to mods as well. They don’t know yet how it’ll work exactly. What is clear is that they don’t want to sell mods but would like mod creators to somehow get some amount of money. A mod manager was discussed briefly, but nothing concrete was said.

More social media integration is being looked at. Currently, it’s already possible to connect Facebook, VK, Steam, Twitch, PS, Switch, Xbox, and Google accounts.

Finally, they're happy with the look of the store as it is now with its big tiles. Eventually things like categories will be introduced, but it sounds like this is basically the design they’ll be sticking with.

On the developer’s end of things

The most important of these is probably that by the end of 2019 the EGS is expected to open to self-publishing.

Galyonkin states that the 12% cut that the EGS gets for their services is not planned to be raised over time. It might get lower, however, if they will be able to eventually cut a better deal with payment processing companies -- but this won't happen any time soon.

In about five to six years' time, Galyonkin expects to achieve 50% of Steam's userbase. However, he doesn't know yet roughly how many Fortnite players will convert to buyers of other games, as it's too early to tell.

The launch builds of games are tested for playability.

Users will be able to contact developers directly for tech support issues through a ticket system. This, Galyonkin claims, is expected to solve a lot of issues. Epic, as a platform, is able to read these tickets. They will not do this at their own discretion, but if it turns out that a developer is refusing to help and Epic gets complaints from its users, Epic will be able to look over their exchange history and see whether tech support was attempted through the ticket system.

Developer-created promotional codes for discounts/bonuses will eventually come. It will also be possible to generate keys like on Steam, and Epic will not charge their usual 12% for those keys. However, Galyonkin doesn't recommend it since other marketplaces typically charge a higher cut than the EGS. Games that are sold also on other storefronts will in all likelihood not be allowed to have a lower base price there. Differing sales of course are fine.

Developers are able to see suggested regional prices, but there is only limited support currently – note that Epic seem to have improved support for different currencies since this podcast aired. Regional prices are shown as a percentage discount from the base price rather than the adjusted number in the local currency (like on Steam). This, Galyonkin says, is so that developers have a better gauge on how much cheaper their game is sold for in lower income regions.

There won’t be massive sales events that take up the entire store like on Steam. As to why, Galyonkin says such events effectively kill off sales for games that don't participate in them as well as for new games that launch right before that event. Instead, games on sale will be featured alongside non-sale games.

Regarding price errors, if a user buys a game on the cheap through a price error and it's Epic's fault, they won't revoke the purchase. I don't recall Galyonkin saying anything about compensating the developer in such cases, but I would almost assume so. If it's a developer’s fault, it's up to them what to do.

The EGS will try to give developers as much info on players as is “legally possible” – more than on Steam. Galyonkin says that you’ll be able to see what other games they play and what genres they like. Partners can disclose their own sales data, but Epic isn’t allowed to. Though he does make a point of saying there’ll be information that will give you an idea of what kind of games are currently popular. There will be an API that can be scraped to facilitate a potential "Epic Spy," but they will not offer that service themselves. Galyonkin would be glad to see it happen. Additionally, in certain instances, developers will be able to see what domains people came from to find their store page and find out whether that converted into a sale or not.

In the podcast, Galyonkin also said that all regions get the same build of the game. If you purchase a game in Russia, for example, it won't be that it only has Russian language in-game, as is apparently the case for some Ubisoft games. If this is requested by developers, it can be changed. Evidently, The Division 2 is already Russian-only for that region, so some changes have been made since then.

Galyonkin stated that the EGS’s in-app purchase policy is not yet fully finalized – seeing as they’ve secured The Division 2, they’ve probably already figured this out by now. At the time of the podcast, he said that Epic will most likely also take a cut of in-app sales like Steam. Galyonkin was not able to give a final answer on the minutia of that.

Finally, Galyonkin said that you won't be able to append your own launcher that will be launched from the EGS app, but that this may change in the future. Once again, given how Ubisoft handles its games on Steam and that The Division 2 is launching on the EGS, I assume they've already made a change on this stance since this podcast's release. It seems like the release of The Division 2 made them finalize a lot of these decisions.

Discussion

If you got this far without skipping ahead, congratulations. Here, I’d like to outline some of my own thoughts now that I’ve gotten a better idea of what Epic’s vision is for their store and their approach to discovery on a digital marketplace. As I said early on, it’s pretty clear that the Epic Games Store has a completely different potential userbase than Steam’s -- recall how Galyonkin said that 60% of Fortnite’s players who have Steam installed do not actually use it. As someone who has been regularly playing games on PC for over a decade and used Steam for about just as long, that’s astounding. Eye-opening, really.

This audience is very different from Steam’s, and I wouldn't be surprised if their purchasing habits as well as methods of discovering new games are also very different than yours and mine. Perhaps for them streaming and influencers are indeed their primarily way of finding out about new games. That appears to be what Epic is reading off of the information they’ve gathered. What I find somewhat worrying is the idea of influencers getting a cut of sales. I’m absolutely not discounting that they promote games and drive sales – I myself bought Persona 4, Deadly Premonition, and many other games after watching hours upon hours of Giant Bomb’s antics in those games. But giving them a direct cut is basically is asking them to always project having fun, however forced or untrue, as it is financially beneficial to them. Questionable. For the end user mainly.

Alternatively, say you’re a developer and you give a copy of your game to a streamer, but they proceed to trash your game publicly. Variety streamers are not always great at games. They’re human, so they may misunderstand something, get frustrated, or encounter some other roadblock and signal that this game is not fun or not worth playing. You’re losing sales potentially. This is of course operating on the assumption that this audience's buying habits is indeed influenced significantly by streamers. However, given that the EGS is focused so heavily on this, we are supposed to expect as much.

This brings into a focus something that looks like a huge differentiator from Steam on the surface of it. Yet, I believe that essentially it may well lead to some of the same issues that developers currently have with Steam. Namely, the influencer-developer dynamic to facilitate discovery on the EGS, and that the developer is still no longer in control of "the message" once that copy is in the hands of an influencer. It’s the same reason why many developers take issue with Steam reviews. It’s open to extreme subjectivity – to a fault – as well as backfiring. Like Steam’s review system, the sword can cut either way. And once the EGS transitions into self-publishing, a host of other roadblocks may come up for developers that run somewhat counter to Epic’s message of developer-friendliness and, more specifically, indie-friendliness.

What I’m not yet entirely clear on is if you can choose what influencers to send your game to. More importantly, will they even play your game? Once there are hundreds or thousands of games competing for influencers' attention, it's less and less likely they'll cover it. Like us, the major limiting factor to playing more games often isn’t money but time. Another key question to the viability of infuencer-driven discovery is whether your game can draw views. Ultimately, streamers’ main revenue sources are – to my knowledge – subscriptions and ad viewership. Despite being a phenomenal game, I don't think that What Remains of Edith Finch is particularly compelling streaming material. Or something like Abzu, Into the Breach, Journey, and other more contemplative experiences. Think of short narrative games or games that expect only a single playthrough like Return of the Obra Dinn and Her Story. What is their place on the EGS once they’re not on the front page anymore? And if a streamer’s audience just watched a complete playthrough, why buy it? Will smaller developers, in accordance with Galyonkin's expectations, have to raise referral cuts to something as high as 20% to entice them to promote it? Will Epic do anything to prevent a race to the bottom for referral margins as developers vye for influencers' attention?

The main point that I’m getting to is that I think that there will be many (smaller) games that will not get sufficient exposure on the EGS without more extensive discovery tools. Of course, there are a multitude of additional considerations intersecting when making a choice on where to put your game, including whether your game has historically done well on the Steam storefront at all, and especially if it’s going to be an exclusive – timed or otherwise. Currently, Epic is providing partial funding for exclusive releases and guaranteeing minimum revenue targets are met. I don’t expect that to be the case once it turns over into a self-published storefront.

There are a lot of decisions that Epic is making that are extremely clever. One of these was offering Subnautica as their first free game. It's a pretty darn good "gateway" game since it incorporates the survival and crafting components of popular games like Fortnite, Minecraft, Rust, and so forth. But if the large audience Epic has amassed through Fortnite doesn’t convert to regularly buying on their own volition, I wouldn't be surprised to see that many of the games that do well on Steam would not necessarily perform well on the EGS and vice versa. I’m not yet convinced that their news feed will be a stable enough second pillar to funnel people to new games, but we haven’t seen much of it as of yet either.

One final impression that I came away with after listening to the podcast and writing this all up is that Epic’s store may not even compete that directly with Steam if they won’t significantly pull players from Steam’s userbase. Funding new ports of formerly console-only games like Journey is one way of doing that. Games like The Division 2 are also huge gets, but who’s to say that Ubisoft won’t lock their future games to Uplay? Epic’s proposition sets itself apart from Steam; the 12% is compelling enough for many developers, surely. But on the consumer side the value proposition is very much a work in progress outside of those key exclusives, and I remain doubtful over the fate of smaller games on the store. Valve's response to shifts in the market will be interesting to watch, too. According to Galyonkin, Valve got word of Epic's plans through its partners and pushed out the change to their cut ahead of Epic's announcement. Perhaps, over time, Epic's efforts will also incentivize Valve to rethink other aspects of Steam -- for the better, hopefully.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on for long enough. I hope this was an interesting read and that it gave you some more insight on the EGS.

And thanks, NoTime for clueing me in on this podcast and clarifying some points in the other thread. I hope you also join the conversation here, as you’ve got more familiarity with this podcast and also listened to the newer episodes.
 
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BasilZero

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,615
Omni
The way he describes discovering games is the way I buy games on Steam or any store - and honestly should be the obvious way any one who consumes any entertainment media.


I dont even know anyone who randomly goes to a store or place just to look for something random to get lol
 

bluexy

Freelance Games Journalist
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
1,572
I'm kind of confused where this guy's answers stop and your commentary filters in. Like with the question about exclusivity, is that you saying Epic paid Sony or him? Because Journey is being published on PC by Annapurna, who is working directly with thatgamecompany I believe. And it's Annapurna that's partnered with Epic.

Understandable mistake if it's just you OP, but if that's part of this guy's responses I'm not sure how reliable he is. Still, might be worth putting the actuql quotations in quuotes tp avoid confusion.
 
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bluexy

Freelance Games Journalist
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
1,572
famikon Not making a statement on rights and trademarks, just who is publishing and the partnerships involved for PC. I'm sure thatgamecompany's contract with Sony will result in them getting a piece of the pie, the same as when Annapurna published Flower on iOS.
 

Nappael

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,222
Their non-existent approach to discovery is pathetic and while pointless now due to the low number of games, will be actively harmful to any indie developers who try and release on the Epic store in the future. Their continued support of third party exclusives and policy on reviews is also awful.

Seems like Epic did help fund the Journey release on PC, though. That goes straight on the list of things I'll give them credit for. That's the kind of thing they should be doing more instead of paying to remove Steam versions of games.
 

BasilZero

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,615
Omni
Seems like Epic did help fund the Journey release on PC, though. That goes straight on the list of things I'll give them credit for. That's the kind of thing they should be doing more instead of paying to remove Steam versions of games.

Yep, here's hoping we see more deals like that instead of removal of games on other stores.
 
OP
OP
daxy

daxy

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,660
I'm kind of confused where this guy's answers stop and your commentary filters in. Like with the question about exclusivity, is that you saying Epic paid Sony or him? Because Journey is being published on PC by Annapurna, who is working directly with thatgamecompany I believe. And it's Annapurna that's partnered with Epic.

Understandable mistake if it's just you OP, but if that's part of this guy's responses I'm not sure how reliable he is. Still, might be worth putting the actuql quotations in quuotes tp avoid confusion.
What Galyonkin almost literally said in response to "How did that happen?" was: "Like all business deals happen, we tell them that we want this and that, and that we'll pay so and so for it, and that's how it happened." So, what I tried to convey is that it sounded like they directly paid for this port, because that was my reading of it. Whether that is with Annapurna executing the actual work as an intermediary studio wasn't discussed. That's all he really said about Journey in that podcast.

In the main EGS thread, another poster noted that Galyonkin also said on his Twitter feed that we should expect other console-only ports to come in the future. Super commendable. I love that they're this, because if it hasn't happened until now -- especially for exclusives like Journey -- I don't believe it could've happened otherwise.
 

neon_dream

Member
Dec 18, 2017
3,209
Doesn't sound better for small developers. Epic is simply passing discovery costs along to the developer. They're only charging 12% because they offer far less support and services than Steam. Meanwhile they caught some buzz and headlines and cherry picked a few likely/sure-hits.

Doesn't sound better for consumers. The service offers nothing new. Prices aren't lower. Services are worse. Selection is minimal.

Sounds good for Epic. Epic gets attention and money.

Sounds good for "influencers" (btw, **** influencers). They get attention and money.

Sounds good for the lucky few hand-picked developers. These aren't the no-name struggling indies though, just winners like Team Meat.
 

Strings

Member
Oct 27, 2017
8,058
You should probably add that Galyonkin is the creator of Steam Spy / works on the Epic Store.
 

Pakkidis

Member
Oct 25, 2017
833
Now, according to Galyonkin, only half of Fortnite players have Steam installed, and of those that do have it installed, 60% don't actively use it. For reference, Fortnite’s player count across all platforms was said to have exceeded 200 million back in November.
Which tells me that vast majority of people who play Fortnite on PC are either young or don't regularly game on the PC to begin with. Epic is trying to covert those people into potential customers. I am willing to bet the majority of people who bought games on Epics store have steam installed and use it regularly.

One thing that I question is, are they able to fund this store solely from a 12% cut. When the store gets bigger, and they have more customers, won't it be expensive hosting all the games, customer service, new features? Or is all the fortnite money going to help it. What happens when people stop playing fortnite?
 

Ganado

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,052
Wait, how to Epic know how many that are actively using Steam etc? Do they also have a survey that random users can participate in or do they just spy at all times?
 

Digoman

Member
Oct 27, 2017
227
First of all, *huge* thanks to daxy for all the work you put into this.

The first thing that comes to mind after reading all of this, and his most recent tweets, is how... "fluid" Epic plans seems to be. They are throwing a lot of money at the problem, but hoping to fix a lot of things later. A good example would be the refund rights that they just implemented now.

The fact that the Fortnite audience has a small overlap with the Steam one is not that surprisingly really. You just have to look at this very forum to see the more hardcore gamer audience don't really reflect the huge popularity of the game. It also reinforces the notion that Steam was never the "monopoly" that many people kept repeating in all these threads. However, Epic is clearly going after Steam users, demonstrated by the games they paid for exclusivity that were already slated for release there.

And finally, about the discoverability.... well, those plans don't sound very good for smaller developers. As soon as the store has a bigger number games things are going to get buried really fast. And that's *if* you can get it in past the curation.

I dont even know anyone who randomly goes to a store or place just to look for something random to get lol
And yet one of the biggest complaints indie developers had in the past months is how the Steam algorithm changed and they were not getting visits to their pages. So it appears to very important.
 

yuraya

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,449
Fortnite is such a new game the fact that half of all the players already have Steam installed just shows how fucking huge steam is lmao. In 5 years 90% of Fortnite players will have steam installed. The # ain't going any lower. And the more you tease them with your poached selection of special timed exclusive games the more they are likely to go and play even more on steam because today's industry is all about consumption. Stop trying to make curation a thing. Everyone is chasing subscription services and giant storefronts. Epic is not doing themselves any favors with these policies. And as they slowly continue to do a 180 more and more pc gamers will laugh at them for trying to be nothing more than the next steam. Except 15 years late to the party.
 

Acorn

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,451
Scotland
The way he describes discovering games is the way I buy games on Steam or any store - and honestly should be the obvious way any one who consumes any entertainment media.


I dont even know anyone who randomly goes to a store or place just to look for something random to get lol
When I'm bored and have nothing to do I'll browse the PS4/steam/ms etc store recent releases and sales. That might be just because I tend to be more out of the loop these days but I feel like it's a normal thing people do.

Edit- just the other day I discovered and bought the escapists this way. Had never heard of it before despite it being a decent selling game.
 

famikon

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
4,566
ベラルーシ
famikon Not making a statement on rights and trademarks, just who is publishing and the partnerships involved for PC. I'm sure thatgamecompany's contract with Sony will result in them getting a piece of the pie, the same as when Annapurna published Flower on iOS.
It's Sony IP. thatgamecompany or Annapurna are not allowed to publish it without SIE approval.
And I'm pretty sure that was the same with Flower.



We know nothing about deal, but I doubt it was for "free".
 

Nappael

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,222
I dont even know anyone who randomly goes to a store or place just to look for something random to get lol
I do, lol. Recommendation queues, the curator system, and "new and trending" lists and things like that. I discover plenty of games directly through Steam that I want to buy.

I also use third party tools like steam250, but that's just because Steam's recommendation tools can be real fucking wild sometimes in what they'll spit out and I end up missing highly rated indies which I'm interested in.

This is one area where I think Epic could actually better Steam, but they don't seem interested.
 
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Hamchan

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
2,815
On a related note about Sergey, I’m a little uncomfortable with Sergey having Steam Spy pulling data from a competitor and being used to help the Epic Game Store, while also being patreon funded. It’s all fair data so fair enough there, but doesn’t stop me from feeing weird about it.

Now I completely understand why Valve was trying to put a stop to it.
 

Arsenekinz

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,737
Canada
The way he describes discovering games is the way I buy games on Steam or any store - and honestly should be the obvious way any one who consumes any entertainment media.


I dont even know anyone who randomly goes to a store or place just to look for something random to get lol
I do. I go through Steam all the time to find new games that interest me, and it works wonders.
 

Dinjoralo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,093
Which tells me that vast majority of people who play Fortnite on PC are either young or don't regularly game on the PC to begin with. Epic is trying to covert those people into potential customers. I am willing to bet the majority of people who bought games on Epics store have steam installed and use it regularly.

One thing that I question is, are they able to fund this store solely from a 12% cut. When the store gets bigger, and they have more customers, won't it be expensive hosting all the games, customer service, new features? Or is all the fortnite money going to help it. What happens when people stop playing fortnite?
An excellent point. They've claimed that they already have an existing audience with Fortnite, but people who play Fortnite (As well as people who mainly play F2P games in general) aren't the type to buy other games.

And I want to say that the 12% cut is the bare minimum they can charge so the store can be self sustaining, with money for developing new features and making deals with developers being from Fortnite. It's definitely going to be a problem when Fortnite inevitably goes past its relevance peak.
 
Oct 27, 2017
400
I guess I really don't quite understand the perception that Steam reviews are this absolutely heinous, evil thing that should be banished from existence. At least as they exist now, even with episodes of review bombing, you can pretty easily notice when a game is getting bombed by just looking at the reviews page. Things like the Recent Reviews score versus All Reviews and the Reviews Graph are super helpful to me as a consumer. I mean, I'd certainly prefer that than either nothing at all or some cherry picked reviews. The way it is on Steam you can pretty easily drill down with the graph to see why negative reviews are negative- maybe some patch came out that busted the game or they made some unpopular changes. But seeing that is helpful to me as a consumer, just as much seeing how maybe Recent Reviews are overwhelmingly positive while maybe they were mixed at launch, which shows me that the game is in a better state post launch.

Its just a larger problem I have with the Epic Games store is that its not at all designed for consumers and gutting reviews and guides and such are just more evidence of that to me.
 
Oct 30, 2017
322
And I want to say that the 12% cut is the bare minimum they can charge so the store can be self sustaining, with money for developing new features and making deals with developers being from Fortnite. It's definitely going to be a problem when Fortnite inevitably goes past its relevance peak.
Care to give a breakdown of their store costs Mr. Business? Seems like you have some real knowledge on costs of running an online store.
 

neon_dream

Member
Dec 18, 2017
3,209
I do. I go through Steam all the time to find new games that interest me, and it works wonders.
Same

Despite people's complaints about Steam's discovery features, it works really well. My front page is 20-30 indie-mid sized games, with just 1 or 2 big name titles. I find new interesting games all the time. That works because those are the games I play, the games I browse, the games my friends play, and so on.

Valve's approach works well for front page visibility. Where it doesn't work is in searching the vast number of titles out there. That can be fixed with better search algorithms and functionality, not by "curation".

Inevitably curation will be dominated by money. Big companies like Apple will feature big games from big names. A few critical successes like Monument Valley or Dead Cells will struggle their way up, but games like Cosmic Star Heroine or OK Golf are shit out of luck.

If Epic hits any amount of success, they're going to reach up for bigger titles, not down for little indies.
 

Granjinha

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,726
I'm not sure relying so heavily on streamers is a good idea and the notion of them being paid on each sale certainly brings an ethical problem into the equation (we previewed Hades on our channel and didn't give away our creator tag for that reason)

Also the discoverability stuff sucks, jesus christ


On a related note about Sergey, I’m a little uncomfortable with Sergey having Steam Spy pulling data from a competitor and being used to help the Epic Game Store, while also being patreon funded. It’s all fair data so fair enough there, but doesn’t stop me from feeing weird about it.

Now I completely understand why Valve was trying to put a stop to it.
i don't think they were, though. The changes made were on request of big publishers and devs (or am making something up? swear that i read something like this somewhere)
 

Digoman

Member
Oct 27, 2017
227
Now I completely understand why Valve was trying to put a stop to it.
I could be wrong, but I think Valve could have *easily* stopped him at any time by either blocking/changing the API or simply limiting the number of requests for info. The changes they made that restricted his access were probably due to the GDPR.

I guess I really don't quite understand the perception that Steam reviews are this absolutely heinous, evil thing that should be banished from existence.
....
They are not. I find they incredibly useful and as you said there is already enough information for you to "detect" review bombing. Opt-in reviews we be a *lot* less informative, unless almost all developers opt-in and then if you find one game without you will know something is wrong.
 

Joey T

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,277
The point about regarding what percentage of Fornite players actually have Steam is super interesting. You have to remember, a lot of people got Steam for Half-Life 2, CSS, Team Fortress 2, Dota 2 and CS:GO. And now there's a new generation of gamers who got into games with Fortnite who might not know or care about Steam. Definitely appealing to studios to be able to sell to them on a less crowded store front.
 

kaishek

Member
Oct 30, 2017
1,063
Texas
Love this company elbowing their way into a market that's not really screaming for competition. People are pretty damn satisfied with Steam, I personally have much more belief in Steam fixing their own problems than Epic or whoever creating a better Steam, and it's because of what I've seen so far. We won't get a better Steam with a company happy to moneyhat their way to PC launcher relevancy, we're more likely to get something worse.
 

AmFreak

Member
Oct 26, 2017
918
One thing that I question is, are they able to fund this store solely from a 12% cut. When the store gets bigger, and they have more customers, won't it be expensive hosting all the games, customer service, new features? Or is all the fortnite money going to help it. What happens when people stop playing fortnite?
Sure it will become more expensive, but they will also get more money from more users.
Outside of new features the avg. user will become cheaper, the bigger they are, because the fixed costs stay the same and the variable costs will come down through economics of scale.
 

Jam

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,603
Doesn't sound better for small developers. Epic is simply passing discovery costs along to the developer. They're only charging 12% because they offer far less support and services than Steam. Meanwhile they caught some buzz and headlines and cherry picked a few likely/sure-hits.

Doesn't sound better for consumers. The service offers nothing new. Prices aren't lower. Services are worse. Selection is minimal.

Sounds good for Epic. Epic gets attention and money.

Sounds good for "influencers" (btw, **** influencers). They get attention and money.

Sounds good for the lucky few hand-picked developers. These aren't the no-name struggling indies though, just winners like Team Meat.
Got to echo this sentiment.

The way to break the 'supposed monopoly' is to offer a better feature set and functionality, and price point. It is not to actively spite competition to marginalize their market position.

I do appreciate the higher cut for developers, but as for the end consumer Steam is miles ahead of Epic - and I doubt consumers are ready to sacrifice a better service out of the goodness of their hearts to offer developers a larger cut, especially not large successful ones.
 

Shizuka

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,550
Great read. I wonder how japanese developers and publishers will see this new storefront, as some of those are everywhere, but a few others are Steam-exclusive still.
 

JustinP

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,221
Now, according to Galyonkin, only half of Fortnite players have Steam installed, and of those that do have it installed, 60% don't actively use it.
Uhhh, how do they claim to know this? Seems pretty creepy, no?

Is the Epic launcher looking at what processes are running on your computer? Are they somehow cross referencing their email db with steam’s? (Is steam’s db really public like that? I’d assume no because that’s bonkers)
 

bluexy

Freelance Games Journalist
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
1,572
We know nothing about deal, but I doubt it was for "free".
I literally never said "free" in either of my comments. Who gets paid what at the end of the day is another matter entirely.

Annapurna publishing means specifically that Epic would deal with Annapurna to get Journey onto the EGS. There's a chance Annapurna used that potential cash to make a Journey PC port happen in the first place, but odds are much more likely that the PC port decision happened separately and then Epic came along to snag the exclusive later. After all, Epic's partnership with Annapurna is not just a Journey thing, it looks like it encompasses all of Annapurna's games.
 
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daxy

daxy

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,660
Uhhh, how do they claim to know this? Seems pretty creepy, no?
Questionnaire perhaps? Maybe scraping your PC for info. Steam does an opt-in survey that gets a lot of info on your system, though I don't remember if that includes installed games/software. I don't believe so.
 

Necromanti

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,689
The more I read, the less enthusiastic I feel about the store as a consumer. The focus on influencers and the way they’re “handling” reviews sound awful. I’m okay with timed exclusives if they’re funding games that wouldn’t be getting made otherwise, though.

I’m not sure what conclusions you can really draw from people who play nothing but Fortnite and their engagement with Steam.
 
Oct 27, 2017
400
The point about regarding what percentage of Fornite players actually have Steam is super interesting. You have to remember, a lot of people got Steam for Half-Life 2, CSS, Team Fortress 2, Dota 2 and CS:GO. And now there's a new generation of gamers who got into games with Fortnite who might not know or care about Steam. Definitely appealing to studios to be able to sell to them on a less crowded store front.
I guess my question would then be why would any Fortnite player that doesn't have Steam stick to the Epic Games store and not jump ship to Steam once they realize how limited the selection of games is on the Epic Games Store? The kinds of smaller indie games Epic is courting with exclusivity don't necesssarily seem like great fits in comparison to why somebody might get into a big multiplayer game like Fortnite.

It would be one thing if Epic was curating a bunch of similar multiplayer games to their store ( which maybe The Division 2 is the closest they've done so far) but I just question what amount of only Fortnite people will jump over to these other indie games that Epic is moneyhatting onto their store. So sure, it might be appealing to studios to try and tap into that Fortnite market, but I would think it would massively depend on what percentage of Fortnite people use the Epic Games store for anything but Fortnite, not Steam.
 

Nappael

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,222
Questionnaire perhaps? Maybe scraping your PC for info. Steam does an opt-in survey that gets a lot of info on your system, though I don't remember if that includes installed games/software. I don't believe so.
It does not. Steam's survey just gives hardware information and basic details of core system things like what OS you are using.
 

Conkerkid11

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
5,379
Why essentially treat this whole thing as early access though? Devs of a competitor with Steam know what Steam has, and what they need in order to compete. It just seems like they looked at the list of features that Steam has, decided that was too much work, and instead are throwing money at devs to release timed exclusives so people are forced to use their launcher.
 

werezompire

Zeboyd Games
Verified
Oct 26, 2017
2,390
So as an indie developer, you're probably still going to be giving up around 30% of your gross revenue, it's just a large chunk of that will be going to youtubers whose views you may or may not agree with. The alternate is that you set streamer revshare to 0% and just treat the Epic Games Store as a way to sort of do direct purchases without having to actually do direct purchases yourself. In any case, it sounds like Epic is going to do basically nothing to direct traffic to your game unless you're so successful that you don't need the extra traffic.
 

Chronospherics

Games User Researcher
Verified
Oct 28, 2017
2,177
Brighton
The way he describes discovering games is the way I buy games on Steam or any store - and honestly should be the obvious way any one who consumes any entertainment media.


I dont even know anyone who randomly goes to a store or place just to look for something random to get lol
I browse digital stores till I find something interesting. On PSN and Switch, I tend to look at EVERY new release.

My girlfriend often goes to clothes shops just to look at things, and then, seemingly at random, decides she wants something.

Isn't this a common way to shop?
 
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daxy

daxy

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,660
So as an indie developer, you're probably still going to be giving up around 30% of your gross revenue, it's just a large chunk of that will be going to youtubers whose views you may or may not agree with.
For a certain subset of sales. And you can set the share to as low as you want, but whether they'll then be interested at all of course remains to be seen.
 

Necromanti

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,689
I browse digital stores till I find something interesting. On PSN and Switch, I tend to look at EVERY new release.

My girlfriend often goes to clothes shops just to look at things, and then, seemingly at random, decides she wants something.

Isn't this a common way to shop?
The bookstore analogy was especially weird because that’s one of the few places where that would seem natural.
 

console lover

Member
Feb 19, 2018
5,587
When I'm bored and have nothing to do I'll browse the PS4/steam/ms etc store recent releases and sales. That might be just because I tend to be more out of the loop these days but I feel like it's a normal thing people do.

Edit- just the other day I discovered and bought the escapists this way. Had never heard of it before despite it being a decent selling game.
Me and the wife do this all the time, we'll finish up a game or watching a movie and wit nothing to do we just end up browsing through the psn store and add stuff to our want list. Window shopping has been a thing for atleast a half century
 

NoTime

Member
Oct 30, 2017
236
For a certain subset of sales. And you can set the share to as low as you want, but whether they'll then be interested at all of course remains to be seen.
Great work pal, I'd be too lazy to do something like that) Probably will continue post quotes from Sergey's stuff if he will be saying something interesting about the store. But this was a one off episode exclusively about the store
 

Ganado

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,052
Uhhh, how do they claim to know this? Seems pretty creepy, no?

Is the Epic launcher looking at what processes are running on your computer? Are they somehow cross referencing their email db with steam’s? (Is steam’s db really public like that? I’d assume no because that’s bonkers)
Yeah, seems like they accidentally revealed that they are spyware which goes hand in hand with Epic being owned by TenCent.

Jk-ish, really creepy though.
 
Jan 3, 2018
1,092
The primary way of "discovering" games will be through influencers -- developers giving out copies of their game to influencers through the EGS and, in return, influencers giving visibility to these games in some capacity. This is basically their analog to Steam’s curators.
 
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daxy

daxy

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,660
Hah. Thanks for the title edit whoever did that. I somehow totally forgot to mention who Galyonkin is in the first place.
 

SteveWinwood

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,230
USA USA USA
I browse digital stores till I find something interesting. On PSN and Switch, I tend to look at EVERY new release.

My girlfriend often goes to clothes shops just to look at things, and then, seemingly at random, decides she wants something.

Isn't this a common way to shop?
I go to bookstores and browse.

These are all examples of highly curated stores.

Do you randomly browse amazon? Especially the ebook store to find new things? I sure as hell don't. It's a mess. Upside: anyone can get on there, there are people who will find that one thing that maybe only they like, items will be discovered that never would have been found before. Downside: it can feel like you're digging through a pile of dirty clothes for one clean sock

That's where discoverability comes in, everyone's favorite buzzword from the last few years! Help your customers find what they'd like before they know they want it! Steams is better than people give it credit, way better than Amazon's already in my experience. Epic apparently wants to be highly curated. They'll miss out on the next Stardew Valley but that's their loss.